Author: Fiona Davis
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 2017
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Do you ever check out a book from the library on a whim and then end up so pleasantly surprised by the story that you can't believe your good luck? That was me with The Address; I saw the cover on Libby, my favorite library borrowing app, and immediately checked it out, even though I knew little of the story. I'm familiar with Fiona Davis for writing historical fiction centered around architectural landmarks, but I haven't read one before. Now, my TBR is filled with her books and I can't wait to read more.
The Address focuses on The Dakota, the famed New York City apartment house overlooking Central Park. Following dual timelines, the first heroine we meet is Sara Smythe, an Englishwoman running a luxury hotel in London who takes a chance managing an apartment house, then a very new concept, in New York, offered to her by an architect staying in her hotel who rewards her for saving his daughter from an accident. Sara is smart and capable, but shamed by her background of being the daughter of a housekeeper who had an affair with her noble master. Seeking a fresh start, Sara crosses the Atlantic and arrives in New York with no idea of what her job would be. Unlike today, The Dakota of the 1800's was located in what was considered the middle of nowhere, away from the center of the city. It was a haven for the up and coming members of society who were making their own fortunes instead of inheriting legacies. I loved Davis' description of the building and the location. I've seen it in person but it was lovely to imagine how it must have looked when it was surrounded by near-wilderness.
|The Dakota in the 19th century|
|In Bailey's world, the Dakota is famed for being the site where John Lennon was killed|
This story ticks all the boxes for me: there's history, there's flawed female leads, and there's a murder mystery. Sara Smythe, who we have gotten to know in the past, is infamous in Bailey's time for murdering the architect Camden; what series of events lead this level-headed, ambitious woman to murder a man she seems to idealize? How is Bailey connected to a hundred year old mystery? There are also cameos from 19th century figures to look forward to, as well as a few plot twists and turns I wasn't expecting. I was all in for the ride no matter how wild it got, so I recommend going into this book without research too much what it is about. Throughout it all, Davis manages to capture both the glitz and glamour as well as the dark underbelly of both time periods that this story includes.
Overall, I really enjoyed the storytelling style, the alternating timelines, and the way both women's stories wove together. Now please excuse me while I read all of Fiona Davis' backlist and pre-order her 2019 release, The Chelsea Girls.